Lesson 1 – Bio-Farm visits offer an innovative outdoor learning space
Going on a visit to an organic farm offers particular benefits to those individuals who sometimes struggle in mainstream education. Groups of children and young people with special educational needs; such as those with learning disabilities or those at risk of exclusion from mainstream education, can often benefit from learning in a new environment
Educational farm visits and workshops provide an important and innovative space that enables informal and formal learning to take place alongside the more conventional school learning environment. The nature-related and practice-based approach creates new possibilities for teaching children by new methods with practical and non-cognitive elements. But maybe more important, these farm visits and workshops offer big potentials for the integration of disadvantaged youth.
Young people and their parents are increasingly disconnected from the farms that produce their food. A farm visit can help bridge this gap in understanding, with the knowledge gained helping to positively influence eating habits. This in turn can improve health and well-being, thus having a positive impact upon wider societal / economic sectors; potentially leading to more sustainable development within society.
Bio-Farms are ideal for teaching. They in particular offer a comprehensive outdoor learning space. They are a good real-world, practical and sensory model for sustainable agriculture. Also, there is a close connection to the school curricula and learning offers will fit well into the worldwide concept of „education for sustainable development“ (ESD). Teachers and educators can find in Bio-Farm life various links and experience areas, where they can complete and deepen the knowledge acquired in the schools for subjects like biology, geography, economics, ecology and environmental protection, sustainability.
Attending a farm visit brings particular benefits for teachers, who educate pupils with difficulties in mainstream learning systems. Classes including children and youth with special needs (e.g. children with developmental disorders, learning disabilities or social problems, children with migrant background) get intensive and new experience for the group apart from conventional patterns of learning and competing in classrooms. Visits on Bio-farms can support teachers in integrating those children and young people.
Visits of organic farms offer special possibilities for teachers and educators. Hands on experiences on farms do not only build up knowhow and motivation but also promote fine motor skills, creative ability, they reduce psychosomatic symptoms, boost self-confidence, farm visits develop and improve a lot of different skills.